Review: Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. Maas

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Throne of Glass #2

SYNOPSIS: “A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for. – via Goodreads

Well, well, well, this series is shaping up to be far better than I had originally anticipated. Throne of Glass was decent, and enough to draw me in, and this book is a marked improvement over even that. We have moved on from that rather silly competition, and there is a lot more character growth going on here, and a look into all sorts of scheming and wheeling and dealing, that was only ever alluded to in the first book.

Chaol and Celaena totally get things rolling between them, and I do like them together. They fit nicely, and though Dorian is still sulking in the corner, he seems decent enough to be stepping back and not being some weird imposition the whole time. I think he will definitely find someone else that works for him so much, and I can’t wait to see who that is. Okay, but on the Chaol and Celeana front – I was so peeved about the let down that it was when they finally got to bedding each other. I didn’t necessarily want super raunchy or anything, but after 1.5 books, it was a bit tame and such a let down. Oh well. Also, while I do like them together, I don’t think they will last together. Chaol is too blindly loyal to the King, and oftentimes comes across as someone who has no sense of self, just a puppet. And he can be really whiny. I think that while he is good for Celaena now, she is certainly stronger than he is, so I guess we will see where they go together.

Anyway, Celeana being the King’s Champion means that she is up to all sorts of things, though she is steadfast against helping Nehemia and her rebel movement in any which way. This leads to obligatory strife, but all is good. There are plenty characters going about things in this book, but we still really focus on the main ones. Dorian, too, is going through some interesting things, and I can see how important this is going to be later on, which is all good for me, and I am totally looking forward to seeing what the King has really been up to and what his future plans are. I really wished we had gotten more time with Dorian in this, but whatever time we did get seemed to be well spent.

Crown of Midnight is a pretty damn good read. It reads quickly and sucks you in and gives you so much more of the world that Maas is successfully building. There is a plot twist at the end that isn’t really much of a plot twist, and has a second plotsie to go with it which also doesn’t shock much, but it is good to know that it is all in the open and I am keen to see where all goes from here. I am quite liking these!

Review: Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

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Throne of Glass #1

SYNOPSIS: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. – via Goodreads

Well, after the pain and suffering that was the Court of Thorns and Roses books, I have been super reticent about checking any more of Maas’s work out, though I have wondered about this series off and on for years. Seriously, after that flipping A Court of Mist and Fury (truly, fuck that book to the ends of the earth), I was not even remotely interested. Natasha realised that I had a major issue with Maas after that, and when she read these, she loved them, but kept it low key and didn’t even remotely recommend that I check them out. So, with no pressure, I eventually needed something to read recently and was really in the mood for some fantasy. That is how we ended up here.

Well, this is a totally different beast compared to the ACOTAR series. For one, I actually liked it. For reals. Yes, sure, the book is still plagued with the typical Maas issue of being far longer than necessary, but aside from that, I was actually interested. The book is also really easy to read, and just breezes by, even though it is a touch long. There is, of course, this little love triangle that crops up in it, and it almost feels that it didn’t strictly need to be in it.

Celaena is not a nuisance, and I quite liked her. I know that she is cocky and self sure, but this is not necessarily a bad thing – she has spine and oomph, and I like that. Then there is Chaol, and this is the horse I was backing! Yes, Dorian is beautiful and charming and all that (and I certainly want so much more of him and did love reading about him and Celaena), but Chaol is the one that I was all for. He challenges her and sees her and just… they click really well together. That being said, I would love more Dorian. The competition that we get in this to set everything up is not quite as hardcore as one would expect, and fluctuates between being written about in a lot of detail or being glossed over. The third act with all its reveals and all that is where things really start rolling, and sets up for a lot more to come.

Overall, I quite liked Throne of Glass. There is a lot of potential to be found in this series, and I am interested to see where it all goes. I totally did not expect to like these books at all, but so far, so good! Yes, a little long winded, and Maas still has a really nasty fixation on vomit, but neither of those detracts from the story. I will most certainly be reading more in this series.

 

Review: Wanted (2008)

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wanted poster

“Six weeks ago I was ordinary and pathetic. Just like you. Who am I now?”
– Wesley

Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is a depressed guy who is on some serious medication for the panic attacks he is always suffering and working in a dead end job. His girlfriend Cathy (Kristen Hager) is sleeping with his best friend Barry (Chris Pratt), and both of them think he does not know this. He stays in a crappy apartment and his life is just an incessant loop of the same stuff, over and over again. One day, though, Wesley’s life takes a massive change. While collecting his anxiety medication, he meets a beautiful woman named Fox (Angeline Jolie), who tells him that his father was killed on a rooftop by the assassin Cross (Thomas Kretschmann), and that he has pitched to finish the job with Wesley. Naturally, he rejects this story seeing as he never knew his father, but is involved in a heavy shootout. Escaping Cross, Fox takes Wesley to her boss, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), who explains to him that they are a secret society of assassins known as the Fraternity. Wesley is told to shoot the wings off a fly, and he scoffs at the idea. He is told his panic attacks are not anxiety, but instead it is his heart rate speeding up and adrenaline kicking in, giving him superhuman abilities when it kicks in.

wanted gif

“Your father was one of the greatest assassins who ever lived.” – Fox

Wesley leaves the Fraternity, convinced they have lost the plot, but the next morning his bank account reflects that it is not a dream, as well as the gun he finds in his apartment that belonged to his father. At work, he disses his boss to her face and ends his “friendship” with Barry, walking out and meeting Fox, who seems to have known that today he would feel differently about the Fraternity’s proposition. They return to the textile mill that serves as headquarters, and Wesley makes it clear that he would like to begin training to officially follow in his deceased father’s footsteps and  join the Fraternity. Sloan shows Wesley the Loom of Fate, the place where the Fraternity gets its kill orders. Wesley is unhappy that their “orders” come from some unknown place from some crazy loom. He fails his first mission, unable to kill his target, and Fox explains to him why they do what they do.

wanted loom of fate

“Our purpose is to maintain stability in an unstable world – kill one, save a thousand. Within the fabric of this world, every life hangs by a thread. We are that thread – a fraternity of assassins with the weapons of fate.” – Sloan

Soon Wesley is a functioning part of the Fraternity, always waiting for his kill order on Cross, which never seems to come, which is frustrating him more and more. After recovering his father’s gun from his apartment that his ex-girlfriend is staying in with Barry now, it seems that Fox and Wesley are a little more romantically connected than was previously shown too much. Leaving the apartment, Wesley comes across Cross, whom he chases down. The hunt is brutal, and carnage is left in their wake. Losing members of the Fraternity is difficult, and Wesley feels responsible. When he comes across Cross, things change when he shares something with Wesley that completely changes the way he perceives everything.

wanted training

“Insanity is wasting your life as a nothing when you have the blood of a killer flowing in your veins.” – Sloan

What is the truth? Is Cross lying, or is Sloan lying? Cross seems to have more corroborating evidence, but it goes against everything Wesley has learned. How is Fox involved? Does she know the truth? What is Sloan playing at, or is Cross just that successful at manipulating other people? Will Wesley kill Cross? Will Wesley return to the Fraternity with his newfound knowledge? Will Wesley continue on with his new life?

wanted fox and sloan

“What did he do to deserve to die? You don’t know. I didn’t know if he was bad. I didn’t know if he was evil. I didn’t know anything about him. We get orders from a loom; fate.” – Wesley

GRADE 7Definitely not the flick to watch if you are looking for something serious and dramatic, but totally up your alley if you want something fun and action packed, relatively well put together and entertaining. Wanted was something I saw years ago and have been meaning to revisit, if not for McAvoy alone then surely for the curving bullets, and finally got around to it after throwing my hands up in exasperation in the midst of studying when I got the the place of what I didn’t know then I was never going to know. This movie proved to be exactly what I needed. It possessed humour, though not overkill, it didn’t take itself awfully seriously (which could potentially have killed the whole vibe this worked for), and it isn’t long. The effects are pretty damn good, and the transformation we witness in Wesley after he discovers more about his past is awesome. He actually grows a spine, and that rocks! Angelina Jolie was very good in her role as Fox, I liked her a lot. McAvoy was pretty good, nothing to really fault there, though I must say I prefer his more in depth and intense roles (think Filth), but he delivered here nonetheless. Ever entertaining, Mr McAvoy – he can play just about anything across the board. The training that Wesley underwent was the only time that things teetered on the edge of getting boring though, there were a few scenes that just repeated themselves, but that was luckily saved due to everything moving along very quickly, and the movie being short. The plot twist also worked for what was coming, changing the dynamic of the movie. It is fast paced and filled with plenty of pretty damn cool things going on onscreen from the get go. Just the film to watch when you just want something entertaining, not too heavy, not too serious, not too stupid, and that looks good (cast and camera) and has some really good, thrilling action moments.